Hillsborough Commission votes to spend $600M on Tampa's traffic woes

County Administrator: plan is not a "solution"
Posted at 5:46 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 17:46:50-04

The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners voted to Wednesday to spend a lot of taxpayer dollars on traffic congestion issues.

About $600 million will be spent over the next 10 years, based on the Board’s decision today, on a series of plans which include road resurfacing, intersection improvements and road-widening projects across the County.

The Board’s plans were reviewed by the Hillsborough Planning Commission in advance, which provided ABC Action News a list of the projects being considered. Here is a partial list:

  • An overpass over I-75 that would connect U.S. 41 and U.S. 301 that is expected to provide congestion relief
  • Extension of Citrus Park Drive from Sheldon Road to Countryway Blvd
  • Intersection improvement at Bruce B. Downs at Bearss Avenue.
  • Apollo Beach Blvd overpass of I-75
  • Widening Big Bend Road
  • Improving E. 131st Avenue near USF to make the area more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Improving Westshore Blvd between Kennedy Blvd. and Boy Scout Blvd to make the area more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists

The County Administrator said in the Board meeting the money is an “interim solution” to local transportation problems, and “not a solution.”

“We’re not ignoring transit needs it’s simply that’s the next step in the process,” County Administrator Mike Merrill said in response to the people, many of whom were wearing anti-TBX buttons, who spoke up against the proposals before the meeting.

The Commission voted 6-1 in favor of the plan; Kevin Beckner was the lone dissenting vote.

The city of Tampa provides about 20% of the revenue involved, but would get about 10% of the direct benefits of the projects proposed, added Merrill, who called it a fair ratio.

The money comes from revenue growth expected to come into the county over the next 10 years. 

“We have to start our war plan today,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman at the meeting Wednesday about the need to spend money to alleviate traffic since a previous sales tax plan fell through. That half-cent sales tax increase, which would have included money for mass-transit expansion, was ultimately voted-down by the board, including Murman.